iNews Review

Apple's New iPad Blunder, Brydge Makes iPad a Real Laptop, iHome's iPad Workstation, and More

This Week's iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.04.27

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review, and general Mac news is in Mac News Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

Rumor Roundup

Accessories

iPod Deals

These price trackers are updated every month.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

Apple Blundered 'a Little' with the New iPad

SeekingAlpha's Paulo Santos acknowledges that it's not permissible to say Apple does anything wrong - but presses ahead regardless, declaring that Apple blundered "a little" with the New iPad in objective, technical ways. Not just that it's heavier and somewhat thicker, or that it drains its much larger battery quicker thanks to LTE and the Retina display, but rather something more fundamental that will not only affect new iPad buyers, but also create problems for users of the original iPad and the iPad 2.

Where did Apple go wrong? Santos says in the first instance, while it has roughly doubled GPU capacity with a quad-core GPU (CPU speed remains the same as for the iPad 2), the Retina display, at 2048 x 1536 pixels, means it has to push four times the pixels as the iPad 2's resolution (1024 x 768) - the end result is somewhat obvious, and that running software (e.g.,games) that were already previously pushing the envelope, the New iPad is simply much slower than the iPad 2.

But even worse is the second mistake. To wit, iPad software will now have to contain code to support both Retina display resolutions and the older 1024 x 768 iPad screens. Those high resolution textures and images eat up a whole lot more space than previously - up to four times as much - the consequences being much larger downloads for everybody that will eat up a lot more of your limited iPad storage capacity, whether you have a Retina display or not.

Santos muses that these flaws raise the question of whether such a product would've made it out the door had Steve Jobs been there to stop and question it.

Editor's note: I agree, and it seems that post-Jobs, Apple's predilection for throwing even recent customers' interests under the bus (pax: the minimum OS X Lion requirement for iCloud support) is getting worse. I'm not at all amused that my not-yet-a-year-old 16 GB iPad 2 is going to fill up with code to support Retina displays that don't greatly interest me - at least given the performance and efficiency penalties they incur.

'My Next Tablet Will Run Windows 8'

Tech.pinions contributor Nathan Brookwood notes that some suggest the structure of the tablet market has already been settled, and that Apple rules while Android-based suppliers challenge - and no other platforms need apply. The failures of HP's TouchPad and RIM's PlayBook prove there's no room for another tablet software platform. Brookwood begs to differ, noting that neither iOS nor Android tablets support the software tools and hardware features needed to create content, while Windows-based tablets, which have been around since 2002, have always included the features needed for content creation, albeit lacking the easy-to-use interfaces needed for content consumption.

However, Windows 8's forthcoming Metro tablet user Interface will add the missing user interface elements, thus positioning Windows 8 tablets as the only ones suitable for those of us who want to both create and consume content on a single device.

Windows 8 Metro user interface
Windows 8 Metro user interface

Brookwood defines Content Creation in this context as referencing a broad range of activities that contemporary PCs and Macs handle effortlessly, but that the process of execution on an iPad or Android tablet is at best arcane and often impossible.

Windows 8, on the other hand, provides a more complete environment, supporting all the touchscreen features that wow consumption-oriented users, but also able to support more serious computing endeavors, allowing power-users to tap on the Desktop tile and be instantly transported to the Windows 7 desktop, with full-fledged desktop applications supported - not just stripped down versions some guy in marketing figured were good enough for tablet users. And while the touchscreen interface will still work, you'll also be able to connect a real keyboard and pointing device, which are vastly superior for content creation input.

In summary, Windows 8 melds a modern multitouch user interface that's great for consuming content with a Windows 7 environment that's far superior creating content, and no other tablet OS can deliver this best of both worlds support.

Publisher's note: Windows 8 tablets are expected to be ARM-based, and ARM processors can't run x86 Windows software, so unless Microsoft and other software makers recompile their apps for ARM, the fact that the Windows 7 desktop is available won't mean a whole lot. On the other hand, x86 Windows 8 tablets should be able to run traditional Windows apps, but will probably have reduced processing power and/or battery life compared to notebook PCs and ARM tablets. Time will tell - and also give iOS developers time to continue developing full-fledged productivity apps optimize for the tablet environment. dk

Tablets Will Become Our Primary Computing Device

PR: Forrester's Frank Gillett blogs that while tablets aren't the most powerful computing gadgets, they are the most convenient, boasting longer battery life and always-on capabilities better than any PC. He predicts they will continue to be better at those things than any ultrathin laptop, which makes them handy for carrying around, using frequently, casually, and intermittently even where there isn't a flat surface or a chair on which to rest a laptop.

Gillett thinks that despite a slow start, content creation apps are appearing on tablets, and he predicts they'll get a lot better as developers get used to building for touch-first interfaces, taking advantage of voice input and adding motion gestures.

Gillett predicts that tablets will become the preferred primary computing device for millions of people around the world, referencing the just-published report Tablets Will Rule The Future Personal Computing Landscape. However, he says there will still be lots of personal computers around - an estimated 2 billion PCs in use by 2016, compared with 760 million tablets - because many people, especially information workers, still need conventional PCs for any intensely creative work that requires a large display or significant processing power.

Tablets Will Rule the Future Personal Computing Landscape

The abstract for this $2,495 Forrester report, authored by Frank E. Gillett, says that for a technology that is just two years old, tablets are huge hit. However, for CIOs the operative questions are: "Will they last and what are the long-term implications? How do tablets interact with other personal computing innovations? Will they be widely adopted?

The report outlines the related trends that interact with tablets and sizes the global sales and installed base of tablets through 2016, and predicts that a new form of PC, called frames, will rise as a result of tablets and other technology innovations and that although tablets will cannibalize laptops to some degree, they will not the new forms of desktop PCs.

Ferrari Chairman Addresses Stanford Students, Meets with Apple CEO Tim Cook

Ferrari.com reports that the Prancing Horse has conquered Silicon Valley, home of the world's most important IT companies and of one of the world's most prestigious universities: Stanford.

Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo
Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo

With the USA being the exotic sports car maker's most important market, Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo recently visited Silicon Valley, where he met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and the heads of Google, as well as addressing more than 600 Stanford students. ''I'm not here to sell cars, but to communicate a dream," Montezemolo said to applause from guests at the "View from the Top" conference. The Ferrari Chairman encouraged students to follow their dreams: ''Be creative, follow your goals, use technology, dominate innovation, but don't become dependent on machines, you have to be in the driver's seat of your lives. Never lose the curiosity for what is around you."

"Intelligence and innovative ideas can contribute to change and shape the future", Montezemolo concluded. "Passion and attention for the smallest details are what makes our cars, those who create them and those who drive them so special, living continuous excitement."

Passion was also the golden thread at Montezemolo's meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook: ''I was impressed by his availability and openness," Montezemolo commented upon leaving Apple headquarters after a two-hour face-to-face meeting. "We're building cars, they build computers. But Apple and Ferrari are connected by the same passion, the same love for the product, maniacal attention to technology, but also to design."

The report says that Cook wanted to see the new Ferrari FF Montezemolo had used to drive to Cupertino close up, that he admired the styling and the interior of the 4-door 4x4 from the Prancing Horse, and was excited by the sound of the 12-cylinder engine.

The Ferrari GT Range

According to a report by Wired's Damon Lavrinc, Di Montezemolo cited a parallel between his experience at Ferrari \ and Steve Jobs' role in Apple's renaissance. The former chairman of Ferrari's parent firm FIAT S.p.A took the helm at the then-ailing supercar manufacturer in 1991, leading it to reestablish the marque as a winner in Formula One racing and as a leader in development of cutting-edge automotive performance and technology.

Why the iPad Has to be Made in China

iFixit's Elizabeth notes that there's a lot of stuff in the iPad: aluminum and glass, of course, but also other heavy metals and toxic chemicals, and manufacturing each 1.44 lb. iPad results in over 285 times its own weight in greenhouse gas emissions - two reasons why the iPad must be made in China and not just in the ways you'd expect.

She observes that labor is dirt cheap in China, and environmental regulations there are pretty minimal (though improving), but there's another important reason why Apple and other manufacturers have their heels stuck in Chinese mud - literally. To wit: iPad manufacturing, like the manufacturing of other electronics, requires a significant amount of rare earth minerals - 17 difficult-to-mine elements used in all kinds of green technology. She says it's hard to say exactly what rare earths are in an iPad, since Apple is really tightlipped about their materials, but cites Cambridge engineering professor Dr. Tim Coombs guessing there may be lanthanum in the iPad's lithium-ion polymer battery, as well as a range of rare earths to produce the different colors in the display, while the magnets along the side of the iPad and in its cover are possibly a neodymium alloy. Electronics glass is often polished with cerium oxide, and all our rare earths come from a pit mine in China, and an American electronics company can only be exempt from China's rare earth export quotas by manufacturing within China.

Rumor Roundup

iPhone 5 Likely to Adopt In-cell Touch Panels, Launch in Third Quarter

DigiTimes' Siu Han and Steve Shen say that Apple's next iPhone, which they expect to be released in the third quarter of 2012, will likely adopt in-cell touch panels - which integrate the touch sensor within the LCD panel instead of using a separate layer for the touch sensor - rolled out by Sharp and Toshiba Mobile Display (TMD), according to sources in Apple's supply chain.

Their insider moles report that an improvement in yield rates of in-cell touch panels at Sharp and TMD has persuaded Apple to cooperate with the two Japan-based panel makers, which will begin to ramp up in-cell panel production in Q2 2012.

Accessories

Brydge Turns iPad into a Real Laptop

PR: The Brydge project's principals think it feels like options for iPad keyboards and accessories are excessive in quantity, yet lacking in quality, which is why they created Brydge, which they claim transforms your iPad into a laptop worthy of Apple.

Brydge iPad LaptopThey say the idea of turning an iPad into a high quality laptop seemed so obvious that they were shocked when they couldn't find any accessory that accomplished this, so they set out to make such a product from the highest quality materials that would complement the iPad perfectly.

They say Brydge is an elegant solution to the scarcity of quality iPad keyboards and accessories currently on the market. Made from aerospace-grade aluminum, with optional stereo speakers, Brydge connects to your iPad using a patent-pending hinge. This click-in hinge allows for close to 180° of iPad positioning and holds your iPad secure enough to pass a "Shake Test." Brydge's hinge, made of metal alloys and magnets with a thermoplastic elastomer shell, allows you to position your iPad at nearly any angle, even allowing you to close it up entirely for easy transportation. Once closed, both your iPad and Brydge go to sleep automatically.

Brydge's aluminum body is machined and anodized so it matches the look and feel of the iPad precisely, so that when paired together, Brydge and your iPad appear to be two parts of the same device, blending style and functionality seamlessly. Unlike other products made of painted plastic in an effort to look similar to the iPad, Brydge doesn't fake it, not only looking good, but with the feel of quality craftsmanship Apple lovers demand.

If you need your iPad free from Brydge, simply hold down on the Brydge and pull the iPad free.

Brydge iPad LaptopSince Brydge practically turns your iPad into a laptop, they figured, why not go all the way and include built-in speakers? This is an optional feature, as it does make the product more expensive to produce. iPad speakers are somewhat average, so it is assumed that the upgrade to stereo sound and improved volume will be a welcomed upgrade for iPad owners.

Brydge connects with your iPad via Bluetooth, so there is no need to deal with any wires or plugs. Additionally, the keyboard has been designed specifically for an iPad, with iPad functions built in, and it charges through a USB connection.

Development of Brydge has been a full time endeavor for the last six months, and the developers say they're fully dedicated to seeing it all the way through production, fulfillment, and beyond. If their funding goal is met, they have a plan in place and will immediately begin to work with manufacturers to finalize the design for production. In preparation for this, they say they have already begun the process of sourcing the materials and setting up manufacturing, and launched a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds for a manufacturing run, calculating that they need $90K in order to produce the product in bulk and bring it to market.

iHome's iDM5 Executive Work Station and Instant Office for Tablets and Smartphones

PR: Making tablets and Bluetooth-enabled smartphones more functional, iHome has announced the availability of its new iHome iDM5 Executive Work StationExecutive Work Station, the iDM5. The product's compact footprint features a full size QWERTY keyboard accompanied by built-in speakers, a microphone, and two USB ports for charging multiple devices simultaneously. The iDM5 is a space-saving Bluetooth-enabled desktop solution that delivers office quality accessibility wherever you choose to work.

"In addition to using their tablets and smartphones for entertainment purposes, people are relying on them to perform more intricate office tasks as well,' says Evan Stein, Director of Marketing, iHome. "Whether video conferencing, typing up reports, making calls or streaming music, the iDM5 is the perfect product for the multitasker."

A 2012 CE Innovations Honoree, the iDM5 is a full sized, iHome iDM5 Executive Work Stationergonomically angled QWERTY keyboard speaker system that lets you comfortably type on your tablet or smartphone, while simultaneously streaming your favorite music, all via a wireless Bluetooth connection. The built-in mic allows you to use the unit as a speakerphone for video conferencing, while two USB ports ensure your other devices never run out of power. You may also play music from any audio device through the universal 3.5mm aux line-in jack.

Special Features

  • Full function wireless Bluetooth keyboard
    • Makes typing easy for your iPad or other tablet or other Bluetooth-enabled device, includes music control functions
  • Wireless
    • Bluetooth wireless capability
    • Wirelessly connect your Bluetooth-enabled phone, iPad, PDA or computer
  • Sound
    • Stereo speakers
    • Specially designed high-end drivers deliver astounding clarity, depth and power
    • SoundClear Voice echo cancellation and Music 3D technology
    • Echo cancellation for clear Bluetooth speakerphone calls and Music 3D sound enhancement for bigger, bolder sound from Audio Technologies
    • Sound Enhancement
    • SRS TruBass sound enhancement
    • Digital sound processing to give your music extra bass and clarity
  • Additional
    • 2 USB charging ports
    • Keeps your mobile devices charged and ready to go

The iDM5 is available now for $129.99 at retailers nationwide and on ihomeaudio.com.

Flote Your iPad for Relaxed, Hands-Free Tablet Computing

Flote iPad stand

PR: Flote is an elegant ergonomic floor stand for iPad/Kindle and virtually all other tablets and e-readers. Similar to a designer floor lamp, Flote serves a useful purpose while looking attractive in any environment.

Flote iPad standFlote is made of precision- machined metal - ideal for reading, browsing or watching a device handsfree while relaxing in a chair, couch or best of all - bed. It adjusts quickly and smoothly without the hassle of tightening or loosening knobs; you freely position the device where you want it and it stays put.

Flote sells for $269.99 + CT sales tax (6.35%) + shipping & handling $45 for domestic U.S.

Manatee iPad Assistant for Use in Bed

Manatee iPad AssistantPR: Realize Inc. has released Manatee, a product for using the iPad comfortably in bed. By setting Manatee on the side of the bed and inserting the iPad into the silicon holder, the iPad is held in a position that enables easy viewing while lying in bed, and claimed to make it possible to use the iPad comfortably.

Manatee iPad Assistant

Also, thanks to a unique mechanism (patent applied for), it is also claimed to be the world's first stand that supports all iPads from generation 1 to 3, as well as iPads with cases attached.

Many iPad owners use their iPads in bed. However, it is difficult to use an iPad while holding it up by hand. In particular, the hands and arms become tired when using an iPad for a long time such as when watching movies or reading digital books.

Moreover, when using fingers to operate the screen, it is necessary to hold the iPad with just one hand which makes the iPad heavy and unstable. Manatee was developed as a product that eliminates this inconvenience.

Silicon Holder Supports All iPad Generations and Cases

The iPad holder is made entirely of silicon. The flexibility and unique shape of the holder supports all iPads from the first generation to the most recent 3rd generation.

Manatee iPad AssistantFurthermore, the holder allows use of iPads even with many different types of cases attached, including genuine iPad cases.

Realize Inc. President Ryuta Mino says: "Wouldn't it be wonderful to use the iPad comfortably while lying in bed? For realizing the concept, the assistant was designed for fully enjoying the iPad in bed. After raising various ideas and repeating a countless number of prototypes and experiments, Manatee was borne. It is confident that Manatee will provide the many iPad users throughout the world with a new and wonderful experience."

Downside? The price is a whopping $499 (North America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, etc.). Shipping is free for all locations when purchasing from the Realize website and Amazon.com.

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